The CFNU Logo
September 17, 2021

Canada’s nurses hold national day of action to highlight nursing crisis

Health Human Resources
Media Release
Nursing Shortage
Safe Staffing

September 17, 2021 (OTTAWA, ON) – Nurses, health care workers and their supporters are participating in a national day of action today, protesting the lack of government action to fix the critical nursing shortage and make urgently needed improvements to Canada’s beleaguered health care system. The day of action was called by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions to express mounting frustration among overworked frontline health care workers.

“Across the country, nurses and our allies are rallying in the streets, picketing in our communities and sharing the message however we can, while still respecting public health guidelines. We are done asking for the basics; we demand action to fix the nursing crisis,” said CFNU president Linda Silas.

Eighteen months into a deadly pandemic, and more than a decade into a chronic nursing shortage, nurses and health care staff are expressing anger and exhaustion. Widespread staffing shortages and increased demands have compromised care across the country, resulting in bed and ER closures, cancelled surgeries and less time to care for patients.

“The pandemic has meant countless hours of overtime for nurses, back-to-back 12-hour shifts, and cancelled time off. To top things off, many provinces are balancing their budgets on the backs of nurses through wage freezes, cutbacks and layoffs,” said Silas.

“Every day I hear from more nurses who are leaving their jobs because the current conditions are unbearable, the compensation doesn’t match the value of their work, and their employers and governments don’t respect them.”

The CFNU is calling for an immediate moratorium on nursing cuts, increased federal funding to retain and recruit more nurses, and a federal agency tasked with improving workforce data and ensuring Canada has enough health care workers to meet growing need.

Nurses are calling on provincial governments to end mandatory overtime, wage suppression and cancelled time off, and publicly commit to safe staffing models, fair wages, benefits and permanent work for all health care workers, especially those in long-term care.

“Without urgent action from our federal and provincial governments to fix the nursing crisis, we are headed for a health care disaster,” concluded Silas.

National event details are on the campaign website:


For more information, please contact:
Lauren Snowball,, 613-868-5702